Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 41

November 27, 2023 • 11 min read • 331 views

Episode 41(When Fate Branches Out (1))

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lee Gwak, rubbing his belly, headed towards the Jade Heaven Alliance.

His stomach rumbled with the amount of alcohol he had consumed. Even after his internal energy drove away the fatigue and hangover, it was clear that he had drunk too much.

“Alcohol is truly my nemesis,”

Lee Gwak shook his head.

After one drink, then another, the buzz had pleasantly crept up on him. In his drunken state, he had agreed to become sworn brothers with Nam Woo Gyeong. It was a surprising reversal, considering he had refused Nam’s offer just days ago.

He couldn’t help but laugh at himself, yet he had no regrets.

Unlike before, when he had approached him with a hidden agenda, this time, Nam Woo Gyeong opened up to him.

They talked a lot throughout the night. Thanks to him, Lee Gwak had to enter the Jade Heaven Alliance without getting any sleep.

Lee Gwak was walking with a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“Lee Gwak!”

Turning towards the voice, he recognized a familiar face.

“Jeon Ok!”

It was his fellow outer hall member, Go Jeon-ok.

Jeon Ok approached him, waving.

“Are you just getting in now?”

“Yes!”

“You look like you’ve been up all night. Who were you drinking with?”

“Just some members at the inn, nothing serious.”

“Really?”

At that moment, Jeon Ok’s eyes sharpened, a change Lee Gwak did not miss.

Jeon Ok’s voice lowered.

“Did anything unusual happen at the inn?”

“What do you mean?”

“I am talking about the Berserk Three Demons. They were thoroughly defeated by Lady Mok of Dragon Heaven Valley, right? Did anything strange happen after that?”

“Not that I know of!”

“Aren’t you involved in this matter?”

“…”

“I know everything. You nearly lost your life to the Berserk Three Demons while trying to save the waiter.”

Lee Gwak felt his blood run cold as he listened to the words.

It had only been a few hours ago. The speed at which the news had reached Jeon Ok seemed implausible.

Lee Gwak remembered that Jeon Ok had joined the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, known for their intelligence gathering. It was clear that he was collecting information on him.
Lee Gwak replied calmly.

“What exactly are you curious about?”

“I asked you, didn’t I? Did anything odd happen at the inn? Any suspicious figures?”

“Well, as you know, I immediately escorted Miss Mok to the inner court. So I don’t know anything about what happened after that.”

“Is that true?”

“Why would I lie about something so easily verifiable? Just ask the members on duty that day.”

Lee Gwak raised his voice. Jeon Ok looked flustered.

“Calm down! I’m not trying to interrogate you.”

“Then why all these probing questions?”

“You might not know, but the Berserk Three Demons were guests invited by the outer Court head. They vanished without a trace last night. I’m under the head’s secret orders to find them.”

“So you finally made it to the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, Jeon Ok!”

Lee Gwak spoke nonchalantly.

Jeon Ok replied without a hint of suspicion.

“It’s too early to talk about success. I need to complete the head’s mission before I can consider it a success. That’s why this case is important to me. If you remember anything, let me know.”

“I really don’t know anything. I just escorted Miss Mok and went straight home.”

“Really?”

“Yes!”

“Alright. If you remember anything later, let me know anytime.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’ll keep investigating. Persistence usually leads to clues.”

“Maybe they ran away, embarrassed by their defeat?”

“The Berserk Three Demons aren’t the type to feel shame from defeat. They’re more likely to harbour a grudge and seek revenge.”

“Hmm.”

“Anyway, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. Go on in.”

“Alright!”

“Let’s have a drink together sometime.”

Go Jeon-Ok waved and walked away.

Lee Gwak silently watched his retreating figure.

Though he maintained a calm facade, cold sweat ran down his back.

Only then did he realise how carelessly he had acted the previous night. If Nam Woo Gyeong hadn’t ensured everything was taken care of, he might have been dragged to the outer court for questioning by now.

Last night, Nam Woo Gyeong had assured him:

No matter what, Jade Heaven Alliance would not find the bodies of the Berserk Three Demons.

Nam Woo Gyeong, a man of his calibre, had guaranteed it. Unfortunately, this meant that Jeon Ok would not be able to fulfil his mission from the head of the outer court, Geum Gu Ho.

Lee Gwak felt lucky, but he also realised his lack of experience. He learned the hard way that misplaced mercy in the Murim could lead to great disaster.

Shaking his head, Lee Gwak walked back to the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Upon entering his quarters, the thirteen squad members greeted him.

“You’re back?”

“Welcome back, leader!”

Their faces still showed signs of last night’s drinking.

“Did you get any sleep?”

“Heh! I can survive without sleep for a night.”

“We really had a good time drinking last night. It lifted our spirits, leader.”

Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin Hwi wore satisfied smiles.

After Lee Gwak and Mok Seon Wol left the inn, they continued to drink to their hearts’ content. Overwhelmed by the amount they had consumed, the two recruits couldn’t even stand up when Lee Gwak walked in.

“Tsk!”

Lee Gwak clicked his tongue.

He didn’t need to see it to know how much Seok Yi cheon and Ki Jin Hwi had forced the new recruits to drink.

Pointing to the two, Lee Gwak asked,

“Is there no way to sober them up?”

“Why?”

“They can’t patrol in this state, can they?”

“Heh! That’s my specialty.”

Ki Jin Hwi laughed, rummaging through his bag to pull out two pills.

“These will sober them up instantly.”

He forced the two nearly unconscious recruits to swallow the pills.

With a gurgling sound, the pills quickly dissolved and slid down their throats.

Lee Gwak and Seok Yi Cheon frowned as they watched Ki Jin Hwi’s actions. They doubted that the pills could really revive the two who seemed to be unconscious.

“Cough!”

“Ugh!”

Almost simultaneously, the two recruits screamed and shot up. Their faces were nearly ashen.

Bent over like shrimps, trembling violently, their condition looked serious, so Lee Gwak quickly asked,

“What did you give them?”

“It’s a ‘Hot Poison Pill’.”

“What? You gave them poison?”

“Heh! Despite its name, it’s not harmful. It actually neutralises alcohol poisoning using a method called ‘fighting poison with poison.’ Sure, it’s a bit painful, but they’ll recover quickly.”

Ki Jin Hwi smiled nonchalantly, while Seok Yi cheon sweated profusely.

‘Devil.’

This was a new side of Ki Jin Hwi, whom they had bonded with the night before.

Then Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong, who were trembling as if they were about to die, suddenly stood up.

“Burp!”

After a loud burp, they looked at each other in astonishment. The excruciating stomach pain had disappeared, and they felt surprisingly comfortable.

Ki Jin Hwi laughed.

“Heh! See? Told you they’d be fine.”

In some ways, he was a true eccentric.

Lee Gwak was suddenly curious about what else was in Ki Jin Hwi’s small bag. But knowing that there were lines that shouldn’t be crossed, he suppressed his curiosity.

Seok Icheon asked,

“What happened last night? Did you just escort lady Mok and go straight home?”

“Yes!”

“I never expected such a high-profile person to stay in such a shabby inn. They should’ve stayed somewhere befitting their status, instead of giving us a heart attack staying in such a place.”

“That’s true.”

Lee Gwak smiled slightly at Seok Yi heon’s jest.

Ki Jin Hwi joined their conversation.

“It seems something is happening, for such a big shot to visit in secret.”

“What’s happening?”

“Lady Mok is the only daughter of Muk Jin Yeong, the leader of Dragon Heaven Valley. In other words, she’s the likely successor of Dragon Heaven Valley. Whether she likes it or not, she represents Dragon Heaven Valley. So, her visit here probably means she’s representing them.”

“Hmm!”

“The location of the Dragon Heaven Valley is pretty shitty. It’s not far from the front lines where the battle between the Celestial Demon Troupe and the Jade Heaven Alliance is raging. Probably that’s why they need to closely cooperate with the Jade Heaven Alliance. Since leader Muk Jin Yeong can’t leave his place, lady Mk must have come for discussions. Heh! This is getting interesting. Or, maybe not? It means the battle is getting more intense. Oh no! We might end up being drafted to the frontlines.”

Ki Jin Hwi rambled and then startled himself. Seok Yi Icheon and others chuckled at his antics, but Lee Gwak couldn’t.

He was impressed by Ki Jin Hwi’s ability to deduce so much from just lady Muk’s arrival.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak sighed softly, drawing a curious look from Ki Jin Hwi.

“Why the sigh?”

“We have to go on patrol now.”

“Heh! I thought…”

“Let’s go, everyone.”

At Lee Gwak’s command, they all grabbed their weapons and stepped outside.

The arrival of Mok Seon Wol the night before hadn’t brought any noticeable changes within the Jade Heaven Alliance, at least not in the outer hall where Lee Gwak patrolled. The scene inside the high walls of the inner court might be different.

After walking for a while, Lee Gwak’s squad noticed something unusual: a massive procession of carriages entering through the main gate.

Lee Gwak approached the gate captain.

“What’s this procession?”

“It’s supplies from the Myriad Merchant Troupe for the war.”

“Myriad Merchant Troupe?”

“Yes! One of the Ten Sects. A conglomerate of merchants across the world.”

“Hmm!”

Lee Gwak murmured thoughtfully.

Indeed, Myriad Merchant Troupe was one of the top Ten Sects, unique in being a coalition of the world’s greatest merchants.

Lee Gwak didn’t know how the Myriad Merchant Troupe was formed. What he knew was that their wealth was so vast, it could buy the world and still have leftovers, and to protect such wealth, the great merchants united.

Myriad Merchant Troupe used their immense financial power to hire or train warriors. Initially, their warriors weren’t of high calibre, but now, a hundred years later, they had a force rivalling any sect in the world.

Lee Gwak watched the entering merchants and warriors with a heavy gaze, paying special attention to the warriors.

Their attire and weapons were incredibly lavish, as if to showcase Myriad Merchant Troupe’s enormous wealth.

The gate captain beside Lee Gwak commented enviously,

“How splendid they are. They must have it good, not having to scrape by like us, receiving proper treatment and hardly ever having to fight.”
What do you mean, no need to fight?”

“They control the wealth of the world. Angering them would mean turning the world’s merchants against us. Then, no merchant would trade with us, leading to our downfall.”
Lee Gwak nodded, understanding the captain’s point.

“Anyway, it seems the agreement with Myriad Merchant Troupe went well, seeing them provide such a huge amount of supplies.”

“Heh! Jade Heaven Alliance and Myriad Merchant Troupe have always had good relations. I’m not sure why, though.”

“Is that so?”

“Don’t be too surprised. This is just the beginning. More substantial supplies will be coming to the main court.”

Hearing the captain’s words, Lee Gwak looked at the endless line of carriages.

Each carriage was loaded to the brim. Some carried weapons, others grain.

The goods were worth tens of millions in gold.

‘And this is just the beginning?’

Lee Gwak trembled before the enormous power of the Myriad Merchant Troupe and felt the strength of the Jade Heaven Alliance once again.

Even the Myriad Merchant Troupe , with its immense wealth, was providing significant support to the Jade Heaven Alliance, a feat impossible without the overarching influence of the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Then, Ki Jin Hwi, standing behind Lee Gwak, murmured in a low voice,

“Tsk! Looks like a storm of blood is brewing on the battlefield.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a sign that the frontlines are worsening if they need so many supplies.”

“Hmm!”

“Probably, Miss Mok’s arrival is related to these supplies.”

Ki Jin Hwi’s voice was filled with certainty.